September 2, 2010

In Today's Issue:


Industry Reaches Milestones in GAPs Harmonization

Twenty-seven produce industry business leaders met in their first face-to-face meeting last week in Philadelphia to develop plans for the management and sustainability of the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative. Led by Wegmans Vice President Dave Corsi, the Operations Committee recommended to the Initiative's Steering Committee that United Fresh be the secretariat of the audit standard. As secretariat, United Fresh would be responsible for - among other duties - soliciting input from stakeholders on an ongoing basis and version updates as needed to ensure the standard remains current and science-based.

"The produce industry has already invested thousands of hours into development of the harmonized standard," said Corsi. "For the standard to be useful beyond its publication, the industry has to agree on who will be responsible for administering it, how it will be used and how to succeed in replacing the many different standards in use today."

Some of the other issues tackled by the Operations Committee included pilot audits to test the standard, auditor calibration, outreach and gaining acceptance of the standard from buyers, and the potential for using the standard under the guidelines of the Global Food Safety Initiative. The Operations Committee will brief the Steering Committee on its recommendations at their joint meeting September 13 at the Gaylord National Hotel.

In a separate meeting, the Technical Working Group (TWG), led by McDonald's Suresh DeCosta, completed work on the Field Operations/Harvest harmonized audit standard. The standard, compiled from over a dozen existing GAP standards and polished by the TWG to be applicable to the widest possible range of produce commodities, size operations and production regions in North America, is now available for review here.

"Every line of the standard was considered by the TWG to ensure the standard is complete and clearly communicates what an operation is expected to control during production and harvesting," said DeCosta. "We had excellent participation from stakeholders across the industry, so we expect that production and harvest operations will find this standard to be reasonable, and buyers will find it to be thorough in assessing food safety practices."

The efforts of the TWG were again webcast to interested stakeholders through the efforts of the Wallace Center, in order to promote transparency to the widest possible audience. DeCosta will also brief the Steering Committee at the September 13 joint meeting. The TWG will meet again October 21 and 22 at Costco Headquarters in Issaquah, Wash., to complete the audit standard for post-harvest operations.

For more information or questions about the September or October meetings, please contact United's Erin Grether at 202-303-3400, ext. 402.


Boehner to Speak at September 15 United FreshPAC Event

Contributors to FreshPAC, the United Fresh Political Action Committee, will be treated to an evening of laughter and insight next month as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) joins popular political comedy troupe Capitol Steps on the rooftop at Charlie Palmer Steak overlooking the United States Capitol. At the September 15 event, Boehner will give a behind-the-scenes perspective on the upcoming election and how it will affect the produce business.

Held in conjunction with the annual Washington Public Policy Conference, the FreshPAC event provides members of the produce industry an opportunity to help elect, and re-elect pro-produce congressional candidates through personal contributions.

"The need for open communication between the produce industry and political leaders has never been more critical," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. "This is always a fun event and we've got such a great location this year - with arguably the best view in the city - so we are looking forward to a great turnout to help further the goals of produce on Capitol Hill!"

For more information please contact United Fresh Policy and Grassroots Manager Angela Bezon Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext 416.Tosign up online, please click here or fill out a registration form and return by fax to Angela's attention at 202-303-3433.


United Fresh Discusses Pesticides, Pest Quarantine with USDA

This week, United's Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Rob Neenan met with USDA Office of Pest Management Policy Director Dr. Sheryl Kunickis and members of USDA's inter-departmental pest management policy working group regarding key issues facing the produce industry.

The topics discussed included continued availability of methyl bromide for pest quarantine purposes, harmonizing the pesticide maximum residue levels set by other nations importing U.S. products, clarifying some of the findings presented in USDA Pesticide Data Reports, and the need for aggressive control and eradication of invasive species.

As a result of the meeting, Dr. Kunickis and USDA staff agreed to work closely with United Fresh regarding these and a number of other pest management issues. For more information on the meeting, please contact Neenan at 202-303-3400 ext. 427.


Continued Progress Reflected in Q2 FreshFacts® on Retail Report

The latest edition of the United Fresh Foundation's quarterly retail research report shows some promising news for the industry. Research contained in FreshFacts® on Retail shows that produce department performance in the second quarter of 2010 had similar trends as the first quarter of 2010, with price changes varying, but dollar and volume sales growing in many categories.

According to the report, it is clear that "... fresh produce remains a high priority for many consumers, since many purchased more produce regardless of price. Onions, for example, increased a dramatic 41.9% in average retail price, but did not hinder volume as it grew 0.6%. A similar trend occurred in citrus, where price increased 16%, but volume still grew 2.7%. Even more promising, value-added fruit and vegetables increased average prices by 1.6% and 4.2% respectively, and both maintained volume growth."

The FreshFacts® on Retail report, produced in partnership with the Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

  • A 6.6% increase in average vegetable dollars and a 4.0% increase for fruit
  • Five of the top 10 fruit categories and seven of the top 10 vegetables experienced dollar growth
  • An increase in dollars and volume for every value-added vegetable category and an increase in overall value‐added fruit dollar and volume sales by 10.8% and 9.1% respectively
  • Increases of 7.9% in sales and 10.9% in volume for organic fruits overall

In addition, this edition features a Quarterly Spotlight on how to measure the performance of retail promotions in produce, including how to measure their effectiveness.  This quarter's spotlight shows the produce department sold 27% of all volume while on promotion, with 57.6% of all fruit promotions being efficient (above expected sales) and 47.3% efficiency for vegetable promotions.

The complete FreshFacts® on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge to all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members) at www.unitedfresh.org. For more information about how to obtain the report or suggestions for future category spotlights, please contact Patrick Delaney, United Fresh communications manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 417. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.


New United Fresh App Enables Users to Get News, Tailored Event Schedules

Capitalizing on the popularity of its 2010 convention mobile applications, United Fresh has launched a new, feature-rich version this week in preparation for the annual Washington Public Policy Conference in September.

"The app allows United Fresh members to stay informed with United and industry news while on the go," said Ray Gilmer, United's vice president of communications. "In today's busy and demanding business environment, the United Fresh Mobile App brings added convenience and value to our members, and helps them stay connected with the United Fresh community."

United's Washington Public Policy Conference, September 14-16, will provide one of the first opportunities for United Fresh members to use the app, which is available for Apple iPhone and iPad, and BlackBerry devices, as well as devices running the Android operating system. The United Fresh app enables the user to view a conference schedule of events customized to their market segment: Grower-Shipper, Wholesaler-Distributor, Fresh-Cut Processor or Retail-Foodservice.

"United members use their mobile devices to stay informed on the issues that impact their businesses, and that's what the new United Fresh app is designed to do," said Gilmer. "As we move beyond the upcoming Washington conference, the app will feature member alerts, news updates, United Fresh events and programming bulletins, as well as other new features, to help extend the value of United Fresh membership."

The application is free and available for download through the Android App Market, Apple App Store and BlackBerry App World by clicking here.

For more information on the app, or on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please visit www.unitedfresh.org or contact Angela Bezon, United’s policy and grassroots manager at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.


United Fresh Foundation Names 2010 Family Business Scholarship Winners

Kiley Harper-Larsen

Chelsea McClarty
 

Ben Rice

Mark Stevenson

The United Fresh Foundation Center for Leadership Excellence has named the four recipients of the 2010 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarships. This year's recipients are: Kiley Harper-Larsen, Hugh Branch, Inc., Pahokee, Fla.; Chelsea McClarty, HMC Farms, Kingsburg, Calif.; Ben Rice, Rice Fruit Company, Gardners, Pa.; and Mark Stevenson, Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich.

The scholarship program, which provides the opportunity for employees of family-owned businesses to attend the annual Washington Public Policy Conference, is now in its tenth year. Each scholarship recipient receives complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the conference. 

Applications for the program were solicited earlier this summer and reviewed by the scholarship advisory committee. Winners were selected based on a number of criteria such as interest in advocacy work, passion and commitment, and overall quality of the application.

"We'd like to extend our congratulations to the four scholarship recipients and thank everyone who applied for this year's program," said advisory committee member Steve Ottum of Potandon Produce. "Kiley, Chelsea, Ben and Mark will join hundreds of industry leaders at this year's Washington Public Policy Conference to march on Capitol Hill and address critical issues that directly affect our businesses."

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is made possible through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. to the United Fresh Foundation. The program was founded in 2001 by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins to expand opportunities for representatives from family businesses to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and help make a positive difference for the produce industry. The Foundation accepts new applications for the program each summer.

"Coming from a second generation family business themselves, Karen and Jackie know first-hand importance of family business involvement in the political process," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. "We greatly appreciate their vision and generosity in providing this wonderful opportunity for family businesses to help shape the future of the produce industry."

For more information on the scholarship program or on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please visit www.unitedfresh.org, or contact United Fresh at 202-303-3400.


Locally Grown, Regional Food Systems Come Under the Microscope at WPPC

Regional food systems and locally-grown produce will be the subject of "Wholesaler-Distributors as the Key to Regional Food Systems," a market segment-specific seminar conducted by United's Wholesaler-Distributor Market Segment Board at the pcoming Washington Public Policy Conference, September 14-16. The session will focus on the role of locally-grown produce and produce from regional farms in the overall industry, as well as growing public demand for fresh fruits and vegetables from nearby sources.

"The demand for locally grown product has become a growing business opportunity for wholesalers and distributors," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "This segment of the produce industry is uniquely positioned to serve as buyers, aggregators and suppliers of local produce, connecting smaller farmers with larger buyers in the marketing chain. It is also important, however, to recognize and respect that each consumer, each region and each commodity may carry with it a different definition of locally grown."

Speakers at the session include USDA-AMS Agricultural Economist Dr. James Barham, Lancaster Foods Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Jerry Chadwick, Ben Vitale, executive director of the Central New York Regional Market Authority and president of the National Association of Produce Market Managers, and Mike Wise, vice president of operations for Horton Fruit Company. The panel will be moderated by Brendan Comito, Wholesaler-Distributor Board chairman and COO of Capital City Fruit Company.

Registration is now open and more information may be found by contacting United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400, ext. 416, or by clicking here.


Students at DC Bilingual Upper School Start Year with a New Salad Bar


Students at DC Bilingual School pile their plates with fresh vegetables from their new salad bar.

During their trip to Washington, DC this week, executives from Dole Food Company made a special stop at D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School - CentroNia. DC Bilingual received their salad bar as part of Dole's platinum level contribution to United's A Salad Bar in Every School campaign.

Serving students in grades three through five, DC Biligual’s upper school began the new school year this week and the students were very happy to have the new salad bar. DC Bilingual is very committed to the health and wellness of their students and told Dole official that they would like to have salad bars in their other schools as well.

"We are thrilled that DC Bilingual's students have a new salad bar and are getting the school year started by eating lots of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables," added Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition and health.

Beatriz Zuluaga, CentroNia director of food and nutrition, boasts that students using the salad bar to serve themselves fresh produce has had a very positive impact, helping to expose her students to new items, and increasing their daily consumption of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, DC Bilingual is one of only two schools in the District of Columbia applying for the HealthierUS School Challenge and the salad bar will be highlighted as part of their efforts to achieve this goal.

For more information about A Salad Bar in Every School, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Business Development Claudia Wenzing at 202-303-3400, ext. 415. 


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